Looking for a gift for someone special, something unique for your home, or just want to reward yourself? Mark your calendar for November 24 (Small Business Saturday) and December 15 for A Handmade Christmas in Shepherdstown—now in its fourth year.
Organizer Michelle Kwiatkowski, owner of the Wild Rose Soap Company, founded the event with a mission—to encourage people to buy locally and keep money in the community. She stressed that handmade items by local artisans are just as good or better (and more thoughtful) than the mass-produced items found in big retail stores at comparable prices.
“We’ll have a great variety of stuff for men, women, and children that people will want to buy, and it’s affordable,” she noted. “There will be returning artists and some fresh artists. Most don’t do other shows, so this will be an opportunity to see artists you won’t otherwise see. Most live in West Virginia or within about an hour drive.”
Kwiatkowski herself is a third-generation soap maker with a line of handcrafted natural soaps and lotions. A Handmade Christmas will have something for everyone, with jewelry, knit and crochet items, art glass, wood crafts, practical and decorative ceramics, handmade children’s clothing, candles, stuffed animals, and fine art. Three local authors will be on hand with their books. Especially for Christmas, visitors can shop for wreaths, unique stockings, home decorations, and ornaments for the tree.
Attendees will want to meet (and be inspired by) two local young entrepreneurs, both teenagers, who will be selling their wares. Gage Shepherd, author of four children’s books, published his first book at age 10. Berkley Simmons, owner of For the Birds, makes hand-crafted bird-seed wreaths and other bird treats with natural ingredients.
The event will be held at the Town Run Tap House and Community Pub (202 E. Washington St., Shepherdstown), with food and drink available for shoppers. There will be a play area for children to give parents a break, and massage therapist Tiffany Miller will offer free chair massages to tired shoppers. Santa and Mrs. Claus will spring a surprise visit, and Mrs. West Virginia will read a Christmas story. Mountaineer Popcorn, a business partner of the event, will donate free bags of their famous popcorn to the first 20 people entering.
Additionally, everyone who comes in gets a ticket for door prizes donated by local businesses and artists, and shoppers spending at least $10 with a vendor get an extra ticket. Extra tickets will be given to anyone donating an item for charity. Also, an important addition this year will be the presence of non-profit partners who will collect items for charity.
A featured charity is JJ Bags, who provides children in foster care with new, high-quality duffle bags filled with comfort items. These children are often shuffled from home to home with all their belongings in trash bags. Items needed include duffle bags, small blankets, stuffed animals, toys, single-player games, and pajamas of all sizes. The JJ Bags Facebook page (above) includes a link to their Wish List.
A tourism grant from Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau has helped to advertise the event. See a full lineup of the artisans on the above A Handmade Christmas in Shepherdstown’s Facebook page.